THE GREAT MACROSS REWATCH – Delta Mini-Theatre 2

Delta Mini 2

DELTA MINI-THEATRE (VOLUME 2)

ICONIC SCENE: “TISSUE de-!!”

RELEASE DATE: August 26, 2016

Another blu-ray disc, another short film. This one explains the Walküre’s “Fingernail Devices” as well as their heat-dissipating make up. I think it’s interesting to note that in the ’80s or (especially) the ’90s, information about things like this would be confined to art books about the show, rather than something presented visually as a bonus feature.

In the second short, Mirage tries on a Walküre stage outfit (identical to Mikumo’s, but a slightly different color), and gets embarrassed. This sets the character tone for these films: Mirage is generally embarrassed, and for some reason, Kaname is always drunk.

THE GREAT MACROSS REWATCH 162 – Desired SECRET

Delta Ep.21.png

MACROSS DELTA

MISSION 21: Desired SECRET

ICONIC SCENE: Every hipster’s favorite Walküre members.

STORY DATE: 2067

BROADCAST DATE: August 21, 2016

1. How’s this for a grabber of an opening: Heinz sings to the people of Al Shahal, putting them under Windermerean mind control (Berger notes the Delta waves… a deep sleep brainwave pattern), and then he collapses and can’t sing, which makes every on Al Shahal likewise collapse, either unconscious or dead (we don’t know yet. Later, we find out that no, they’re not dead).

It’s effective, sure, but I don’t like where it’s pointing all that much, since this where Roid will turn out to be doing pretty much exactly what Grace was doing in the Frontier TV series (which itself was also almost exactly what the whole plot of Evangelion was about).

2. And my hopes that Kaname, Makina, and Reina forcing Lady M’s hand would mean some big shake-up are dashed. They’re just briefly locked up here. And let’s face it… locking them up seems like an empty threat, since Walküre are needed on the battlefield.

But no, the point here is to tell how Walküre was created. At the time, I saw some posts saying that it was too late in the series to bring in a flashback like this, which seems a silly point. Especially since the aforementioned Evangelion had its flashback at… yep, Episode 21. More about that at the end.

So we jump back to 2063, when Kaname first joined Xaos, who (as she says) were just starting their “music division.” Now, there’s a manga about that, called “Macross E” (for “Extra,” but also because it comes between “F” and “D”). Nothing from that series is referenced here, but (as far as I can tell) nothing gets contradicted, either.

A little touch that I like is that our first shot of 19-year-old Kaname’s is (surely deliberately) reminiscent of the way Freyja looked at her audition, conducted in part by Kaname.

3. Reina gets added next, with the information that she was caught hacking into Xaos’s servers, and was essentially blackmailed into a job.

The following year, Makina, Claire Paddle, and Lydie Le Gloan were added. Bringing in Lydie and Claire is a nice touch, I think, since most idol groups have previous members that most fans don’t know about (my favorite idol group, Momoiro Clover Z, for example currently has five members but used to be six, before they got big. And had a VERY different line up before they started recording. Heck, you probably didn’t know that “Baby Spice” wasn’t even an original member of the Spice Girls, but got brought in when someone got fired, did you? I wouldn’t have, either, except an English textbook that I had to use for teaching ESL had a little section about the Spice Girls).

This adds a little drama, since we know that these two girls aren’t in the group anymore, and we know that Walküre put their lives at risk by singing on the battlefield… did one or both of them die…? No, they both just quit… which seems like a missed opportunity to emphasize how dangerous Walküre’s job is. Personally, I would’ve killed off Claire, but considering that she’s voiced by Yoko Hikasa, who played Mio in K-On, which, let’s be honest, is a MUCH higher-level gig than Macross, death probably wasn’t an option here.

4. To me, one of the most interesting things that’s shown but never emphasized here here is that Walküre is not an idol group, and didn’t even have the trappings of one when they started out. Initially, they were just wearing the same Xaos uniforms that everyone else wears, and it takes a while for them to adopt idol-style costumes.

We also see that they’re not terribly effective at first, doing very little to affect things on the battlefield, and plagued by infighting, since Makina’s always getting on Reina’s case for not showing enough team spirit. I might be reading into this too much, but I’m reminded of the ’80s group, Onyanko Club, and how one of the main stars of the group, Sayuri Kokusho, was always arguing with one of the other main stars, Eri Nitta, because Sayuri worked really hard to gain and maintain her status, but Eri kinda didn’t care.

5. The battle sequences here, like the battle sequences in Episodes 15 and 18, are brief but elaborate. And it’s great to see Arad not only fighting, but fighting in a VF-31A.

6. Messer gets a brief cameo. I’m not sure how much of this episode was finished by the time Episode 10 aired, but I wouldn’t be surprised to learn that this bit was added in at the last minute for all the Kaname/Messer shippers. I also wouldn’t be surprised to learn that it was there all along.

7. When Claire quits, Mikumo joins… sent directly by Xaos, which is in itself kinda suspicious. She also doesn’t speak when they meet her, but just sings, which is enough to make Makina and Reina turn lesbian (or, at least, act on the attraction they clearly feel for each other).

Then, in the present, Mikumo (still singing “Giraffe Blues,” shows up to release them from prison.

8. Then a brief scene from Windermere, where Keith checks Heinz’s chest, which is covered in the scaly old-age stuff that Windermereans get. Keith is shocked. Heinz is using up his life at a quick rate.

And isn’t it interesting that no one in Delta has ever explained or even addressed the “Grayscale” (to use a Games of Thrones term, which isn’t, I think, inappropriate here), and yet we automatically understand what this scene means? For a show whose writing is often criticized (again, among Western fans, I insist), isn’t this pretty great? At no point does Freyja talk about it to Hayate, and at no point do the Aerial Knights say, “As you know, we get these scales as we age…” We just know.

Oh, we also learn that Roid stabbed King Grammier way back in Episode 13, but that’s not as much of surprise. Everyone realizes by now that Roid is the shifty one.

9. On the other hand… they try to infuse drama into Mikumo revealing that she’s a clone, created three years before, but it doesn’t really work. I blame the music choice, a rather peaceful theme, as opposed to the tense music that might have heightened the scene. And, as Gwyn Campbell pointed out, Mikumo’s “birth” date, August 17, was a few days BEFORE this episode aired, making Mikumo birthday parties impossible for nearly a year. Fan celebrations are important, you know…

And then, post-credits, there’s a scene where a little sparkly thing enters Roid’s forehead, and suddenly, he understands the “Singer of the Stars” and the secrets of Heinz’s singing chamber are unveiled to him. I admit I have NO idea who or what is behind this. Is it one of those remnants of the Protoculture or is it something else? No clue, folks.

10. So, I brought up Evangelion Episode 21, which was a flashback, in defense of this flashback episode. And yet… the backstory of Evangelion is one of the main mysteries of the show. There are no mysteries presented about how Walküre was formed. I mean, it’s nice to see how they started, how they became a sort-of idol group, how Mikumo joined, and how Makina and Reina got together, but none of this is CRUCIAL. It’s like Macross Seven Encore, in a way. Cool to know, but maybe it shouldn’t be part of the main series. Plus, there’s the problem that Mikumo’s reveal (which IS one of the main mysteries of the series) falls kinda flat. The Windermerean scenes are really the only truly important ones here. I like the rest, but it would’ve worked better in a longer series.

OP: “Absolute Zero θ Novatic”

ED: “Destruction of Innocence”

EYECATCH: Macross Elysion.

NEW SONGS IN THIS EPISODE: “Teary-Eyed Explosion”

NUMBER OF TIMES BOGUE HAS LUNGED FORWARD: 11

THE GREAT MACROSS REWATCH 161 – Impulse EXPERIMENT

Delta Ep.20

MACROSS DELTA

MISSION 20: Impulse EXPERIMENT

ICONIC SCENE: Mirage blurts it out.

STORY DATE: 2067

BROADCAST DATE: August 14, 2016

1. So I’ve been saying for a while that Hayate Vár-ing out from Freyja’s singing is the most annoying plot thread, and here we get to why it’s so: they ground him until they can figure out what’s going on.

Now, let’s face it… when you’ve got a show about pilots, and it already seems to be skimping on the action, the last thing the plot should do is keep the main character from flying. And yet, here we are.

2. I’m of two minds about this… on the one hand (and as Mirage points out towards the end) Hayate’s real purpose is to fly, just as Freyja’s is to sing. Threatening them with losing that seems like a good way of forcing them to deal with their fears. And yet, the whole sequence is neither convincing nor compelling. So I get what the creators are going for, but I don’t think they succeed.

The other members of Walküre trying to find out what happened to Mikumo is more interesting, and actually goes somewhere this episode.

3. The Aerial Knights are also standing around discussing what’s going on. Bogue’s theory is a good one (although wrong), that Xaos has analyzed Freyja’s rune and has made an artificial one. Mikumo’s power, of course, goes a little deeper than that, but yeah… why DIDN’T Xaos try that? Probably, I’m guessing, because it’s a very “bad guy” thing to do.

4. We also get more with Heinz, and the machinations at the castle. Since the royal doctor discovered something last time, he’s been replaced, and Keith is determined to find out why. Again, I think the staff is going for some “Game of Thrones” style political intrigue (and just as I wondered how much Battlestar Galactica had an influence on Grace in Frontier, I wonder how much of Thrones’s DNA is in the Windermereans). But again, it’s not as compelling (to me) as I think it’s meant to be.

I think the problem here is that there simply isn’t enough variation in the Knights’ attitudes. They’re not entirely in lock-step about Roid’s plan to conquer the galaxy, but they’re all willing to go along with it. The biggest issues are Hermann and Kassim murmuring about how they don’t really like the plan, and Keith wanting to preserve Heinz.

And THAT’S an interesting point, but it’s never really explicated. In the first half of the series, Keith was gung-ho about using Heinz for his singing, whereas Roid wanted to deploy him sparingly at best. Now it seems reversed. No reason for the switch is given in so many words, but I think there’s enough to allow us to piece it together. First off, I think Heinz’s conversation with Keith (back in Episode 15) about how he can no longer call him “brother” had a profound effect on Keith, to the point where he actually begins to think of him as such (and remember, the “Parting Resolution” of Episode 15’s title HAS to refer to that conversation, and Heinz’s decision. Nothing else in that episode fits). But also, all Keith ever wanted to do was free the Brísingr Cluster from the earth government, and he was quite willing to push Heinz to his limit to do that. But now that that goal has been accomplished, he sees Heinz killing himself for no damn good reason. For Roid, conversely, liberating the globular cluster was just a first step, and he wanted to make sure Heinz had enough power left afterward to take on the galaxy.

5. What the show does do a good job of presenting, though, through a series of small but effective flashbacks, is showing Keith’s loyalty to Roid, going back to when they first met as children, and Keith’s growing realization that that loyalty might be misplaced.

6. I do like the scene where Makina and Reina convince Kaname to join them in their scheme to free Mikumo, but I really don’t think Kaname needed all that much convincing.

7. So Freyja decides she’s going to quit singing for Hayate’s sake, and Hayate decides he’s going to quit flying for Freyja’s sake. It’s all very “Gift of the Magi,” isn’t it?

8. Mirage finally interrupts them, and talks some real sense into them, telling them that she loves them, and will protect both of them. As Macross super-blogger Karice has pointed out (the second time I’ve brought this excellent piece up), Mirage is perhaps making a promise she can’t keep, considering that there is nothing terribly special or gifted about her, but that’s what makes her promise so exceptional.

It’s interesting how a huge part of Mirage’s issues in the show is people’s reactions to her being a Jenius, and placing huge expectations on her just because of that name. And then you see fans doing the same thing, complaining that she’s not the badass that she should be and seems like a minor character in her own show. As Karice points out, this is missing what is most special about Mirage: her very ordinariness and her pledge to rise above it.

Also, as Renato pointed out on the Speaker PODCast, Asami Seto, Mirage’s voice actress, performs this excellently, turning what could’ve been a sappy and mawkish speech into the most compelling scene in the episode, and one of the most memorable in the entire series.

9. Walküre’s infiltration operation is much as you’d expect, and an excuse to get Makina in a nurse’s outfit. It’s a dopey, overused plot, but I’m a sucker for it. To the show’s credit, it doesn’t work for very long, and Makina’s disguise is uncovered extremely quickly, leaving Kaname to find Mikumo alone.

And find her she does, in a moving scene with Mikumo floating in the same tank we saw her in last time, singing softly along to “Giraffe Blues.” And things definitely LOOK dire for Reina and Makina, both captured by armed guards. This is the first time anyone’s gone expressly against Lady M, and you’d imagine there’d have to be some pretty serious consequences for that. You’d imagine…

10. So yeah, probably the least-interesting episode so far, although last five or six minutes are pretty good. I still think Kaname finding Mikumo would’ve been better if we hadn’t seen Mikumo at the end of the previous episode.

This episode also was the one aired after Walküre’s full concert debut, at Zepp Nanba in Osaka (if it seems weird to have the concert on the same night that an episode airs, remember that first, Japanese concerts start earlier, generally around six o’clock or so, and that Macross Delta aired on Tuesday nights in Osaka anyway. Only in Tokyo was on Sundays). I’ll talk about the three-stop “tour” later, though.

OP: “Absolute Zero θ Novatic”

ED: “Destruction of Innocence”

EYECATCH: Keith’s Draken III

NEW SONGS IN THIS EPISODE: None.

NUMBER OF TIMES BOGUE HAS LUNGED FORWARD: 10

THE GREAT MACROSS REWATCH 160 – ETERNAL SONGS

Delta Ep.19

MACROSS DELTA

MISSION 19: Eternal Songs

ICONIC SCENE: Probably the girl group that did the original version of “Do You Remember Love”…

STORY DATE: November 2067

BROADCAST DATE: August 7, 2016

1. We open with some exposition regarding the end of last episode: after Mikumo destroyed the Protoculture system, everyone on Voldor was freed from mind control and the Windermereans retreated, but Hayate is still unconscious, and Mikumo has been whisked off by Lady M to parts unknown, ostensibly for medical treatment.

Get used to exposition, it will continue throughout this episode.

Yep, this is basically the clip-show episode. Like Frontier’s Episode 15, it’s more of a half clip show, and is something of an info dump.

2. The big reveal here is that the Epsilon Foundation, and its oily-voiced (for now) representative, Berger Stone, is not only selling weapons to the Windermereans but also to Xaos. We also find out that they’re a very wide-ranging business, even selling mercat-style smart phones, along with space battleships and such.

There’s also a subtle Macross Zero reference, where Berger talks about the Sv-262 Draken III as being a continuation of the development from the original variable fighter… which, as was said in Zero, is the SV-51. Considering that when this episode aired, some fans were saying that it somehow (I never understood how, exactly) cut Zero out of Macross continuity, this and several other references definitely show otherwise.

It seems like there’s an important scene missing, though… first, we see Berger approach Mirage and Freyja in what is apparently an off-limits area. In the next scene, he’s addressing Captain Ernest, Delta Flight, and Walküre, and ends up giving them a long presentation, complete with visual aids. Why is he there? Was he coming specifically to address Xaos? If so, why? Or was he taken to the captain because he seems a suspicious individual? The whole premise is unclear.

Also weirdly, Berger doesn’t do ALL the talking, as his presentation is intercut with Roid also talking (to Keith, for some reason) about the same subjects. Is Roid listening in? Or is he just happening to be talking about the origins of the Vár as well?

3. Anyway, Berger’s point is that music may be the ultimate weapon, and he bolsters this assertion by walking his audience (and us) through Macross history. Honestly, he makes a pretty good case.

He also, by stating this, manages to neatly address one of the issues that many long-time viewers have about Macross: the use of music. You know what I’m talking about… generally, in any online Macross discussion, there’s usually that one guy (and it’s ALWAYS a guy) who asks why Macross always has to have singing in it. They’ll say that every Macross story is the same, in that the good guys sing at the bad guys and that makes them turn good or go away or whatever. Leaving aside the real-world considerations that music is the primary way that Macross distinguishes itself from other mecha shows, and leaving aside that the music is nearly always extremely popular, there’s now an in-universe rationale:

The Protoculture used music as a psychological weapon, and so their descendants do, as well. The use of music during interstellar conflict is something that has been programmed into our genetics, and so it’s something we do. If Berger’s theory is correct, then the question of why Macross shows always use music has been neatly answered, and no one will ever complain about it again. Right? Right.

There’s a lot of other stuff packed in here as well: we learn that when the Vajra folded off to another dimension at the end of Frontier (bye, Alto!), they left some fold bacteria behind, which entered human hosts and became the Vár Syndrome. Also that the Protoculture structures on all the planets here were created to subdue any Zentradi threat. And that Runes are small fold receptors. And that Mikumo’s singing quality is somehow different from Freyja’s, and seems close to the Windermerean “Star Singer.” And finally that the mysterious Lady M, who has been studying the effects of music since the end of Space War I, is said to have created an artificial life form (or perhaps android) that is the ultimate singing weapon.

4. Afterwards, we get the scene where Mirage visits Hayate in the hospital, and he wakes up after she pleads with him to wake up and argue with her like he always does. Again, Delta generally eschews the homages that were Frontier’s stock in trade for a while, but this scene seems too reminiscent of the scene in Macross Seven where Mylene is begging an unconscious Basara to “Say ‘fire’… say ‘bomber’… say SOMETHING!” for it to be a coincidence.

5. Well, you either fall for the nostalgia-bait of classic songs (with new art painted by Risa Ebata and Hidetaka Tenjin) or you don’t. I see it as a ploy to get new viewers to go back and buy the previous shows, but still kinda dig it even as I realize I’m being manipulated. Again, I’m not really persuaded by Berger’s sudden power-point conference, but as Macross clip shows go, it’s at least as good as Frontier’s, and way better than Seven’s. Still not a patch on the first series’s “Phantasm,” but that’s the greatest clip show in the entire history of clip shows.

OP: “Absolute Zero θ Novatic”

ED: “The Wind Blows Without Warning”

EYECATCH: Hayate’s VF-1EX

NEW SONGS IN THIS EPISODE: “The Wind Blows Without Warning.” And also, not entirely new but new to Delta, “Macross” (instrumental version), “Love Drifts Away,” “Do You Remember Love,” “Wanna Be an Angel,” “Try Again,” and “Lion.”

NUMBER OF TIMES BOGUE HAS LUNGED FORWARD: 9

THE GREAT MACROSS REWATCH 159 – Sense EMERGENCE

Delta Ep.18

MACROSS DELTA

MISSION 18: Sense EMERGENCE

ICONIC SCENE: The “Ranba Ral” scene.

STORY DATE: November 2067

BROADCAST DATE: July 31, 2016

1. We’re back on Voldor, but it’s quite a bit different, since the Protoculture structure has somehow been affecting the core of the planet and causing the climate to change. Is that true of all the planets with the ruins? What will happen if they’re not taken care of? And Kaname points out that the last time they were on the planet, Messer was with them.

2. She’s also worried about Hayate and Freyja working together, since they all just learned that Hayate’s father was the one who dropped the bomb. Honestly, though, Freyja doesn’t seem too concerned about that.

When Kaname presses Arad about Hayate’s father, he points out that all large organizations have skeletons in their closet. She asks if the same is true for him, and he more or less admits it, leaving her looking crushed. Is this the end of the Arad/Kaname ship…?

3. Kassim expresses misgiving about the current mission (much in line with the conversations he’s been having with Hermann), and Bogue insults him. I expected Hermann to come in and tell Bogue to knock it off, but he doesn’t. I guess he’s really taking the “I’m not your master anymore” thing to heart, but still… Bogue is being a little shit, and needs some disciplining.

4. Anyway, Kassim walks off and meets up with Freyja. He doesn’t attack because he says that he’s currently not a knight, but this is just a conceit. Quite frankly, I think he’s lonely and wants someone to talk to about something other than this war that he’s not sure he supports anymore. And he and Freyja discover that they lived relatively close to each other and knew plenty of the same people. And Kassim becomes the only other Windermerean we’ve heard to use Freyja’s term “gori-gori” (or, technically, “gori-delicious”).

5. When Hayate shows up, he gets subdued pretty quickly and they all have a fairly reasonable talk. The whole scene is highly reminiscent of the scene from First Gundam where Amuro meets Ranba Ral, except there’s no ambiguity here. Each one knows the other is an enemy. Still, Kassim offers to help Freyja go back to Windermere. Naturally, she refuses.

6. Mikumo approaches the Protoculture structure (temple…?) and gets an uneasy feeling, along with some quick, indistinct flashbacks. Then she starts singing “Giraffe Blues” ahead of schedule, resonating with the structure, forcing the rest of Walküre to hurry to reach her, and alerting the Aerial Knights.

7. Bogue, clearly trying to get vengeance for being called “cheap” last time, focuses on Reina and nearly gets her. Honestly, again, his rehabilitation was won me over by this point, but any goodwill on my part would vanish if he actually managed to kill any of the main characters.

8. Heinz starts singing and the Protoculture structure starts REALLY resonating. Walküre sings back, and things get very weird. Mikumo seems to have another flashback, Hayate starts going Vár, Freyja goes all wonky, bio-fold waves start spreading across the planet, synchronizing the brain waves of all the Voldorans, and ALL of the Protoculture systems start resonating with each other.

What all of this MEANS is left for later, but it’s made plain that something very big and very ominous has happened.

9. And just in case THAT isn’t enough, Mikumo mutters “Rudanjaar Rom Mayan,” starts singing as if possessed, and blows the entire structure up before collapsing herself.

Emphasizing that she’s probably not okay is the ending credit sequence, for the new song “LOVE THUNDER GLOW” (listed as “LOVE THUNDER GROW” during the broadcast), which is nothing but previous scenes of Mikumo, as if in memorium. Ominous indeed…

10. Well, it’s nice to get some Valk action again, and there are even a fair amount of gerwalk and battroid scenes here. The scene with Kassim is well-done and convincing. That last sequence with the battle, though… even having seen the rest of the series, it’s really strange and more than a little confusing. Roid has his key to controlling the entire globular cluster now, but that isn’t revealed yet. And the unhealthy resonance between Hayate and Freyja is about to get super-annoying.

OP: “Absolute Zero θ Novatic”

ED: “LOVE THUNDER GLOW”

EYECATCH: Keith’s Draken III

NEW SONGS IN THIS EPISODE: “LOVE THUNDER GLOW”

NUMBER OF TIMES BOGUE HAS LUNGED FORWARD: 8

THE GREAT MACROSS REWATCH – Delta Mini-Theatre 1

Delta Mini 1

DELTA MINI-THEATRE (VOLUME 1)

ICONIC SCENE: “This is SCIENCE! Not MAGIC!”

RELEASE DATE: July 26, 2016

On the Macross Delta BD/DVDs (along with EXCELLENT English subtitles) there are some fun short films. They’re done with VERY limited animation, in a style close to a lot of the extra Frontier material (like “Macross Fufonfia” and the “Super Dimension Seminar”), so much so that I thought at first that they were done by the same studio, the memorably-named I Was a Ballerina Co., Ltd. But no, these are done by Studio PuYUKAI, who I’d never heard of before.

Most of it, naturally, is just silly jokes, but the first installment here of “Go! Aerial Knights” contains a lot of information about Walküre’s body suits (which are said here to be bullet-proof, despite what happens later in the series), their gas jet clusters, and their “fold projectors” that create the holographic costumes.

The part that I love, though, as my “iconic scene” indicates, is when the Aerial Knights say that Walküre’s outfits seem like magic, and Reina sternly cries, “This is science, not magic!” Considering how often I’ve seen viewers say they hate the “magic” in Delta, I laughed out loud when I first saw this.

Like the Macross 7 P*L*U*S shorts, I’d say that these aren’t essential for watching the series, but I think they’re a treat, and it would be a shame to miss them.

THE GREAT MACROSS REWATCH 158 – Infection ON STAGE

Delta Ep.17.png

MACROSS DELTA

MISSION 17: Infection ON STAGE

ICONIC SCENE: Sex sells.

STORY DATE: November, 2067

BROADCAST DATE: July 24, 2016

1. In an unusual opening, we start with narration from Roid, explaining the Windermerean’s dilemma: that they are so powerful, but that their lives are so short. And that “solving the Protoculture system” could rectify that.

And indeed, Windermere is beefing up its conventional forces, with a few dozen more Drakens. Bogue’s pretty thrilled about this, but Kassim points out (to Hermann) that Roid was the only one who heard the King Grammier had wanted to conquer the entire galaxy, and who knows if he’s telling the truth about it?

Roid, for his part, is studying Walküre’s performance. Berger tries to figure out why, but Roid is holding his cards VERY close to his chest (and will continue to for quite a while).

2. Xaos, now somewhat back on track, hatches a plan to infiltrate the planet Voldor. If this sounds familiar, it’s because they did it ten episodes ago. One thing to note about Delta is that certain scenes and situations (and even lines of dialogue) repeat later on, but play out differently. I already noted Hayate’s non-lethal attack on Bogue versus his shoot-to-kill attitude with Keith, and his repetition of his and Freyja’s Episode 1 dialogue in Episode 14. as we move forward, there we more of these parallels, some more obvious than others.

3. The plan this time, at least, is entirely different. Unable to sneak in as they did last time, They hijack the Galaxy Network and Walküre stages a concert broadcast, and the broadcast date carries a virus that will break through the security systems. Thus, what was done in a small and secretive way back in Episode 7 is done in a much bigger and flashier way here.

4. When Makina adds a little “service” to the broadcast, getting people to spread the virus faster by clicking for risqué pictures of herself, there’s one shot of the crowd that has a fun little Frontier reference… one guy’s phone looks like a carrot, another guy has a taiyaki-shaped phone (like Sheryl’s), and a third guy’s looks like Tama, the cat (frog…?) stuffed toy from Aquarion EVOL.

Delta Ep.17a.png

5. I’m glad we get a full (mostly) Walküre concert here, because I was beginning to miss some of the earlier songs, like “Jiritic Beginner” and “When My Rune Shines Bright.” We also get a new song from Makina, “Onyanoko Girl,” which is good, but sounds a little too much like it’s trying to be a song by the J-pop trio Perfume to me.

In the middle of it, though, we get a flashback to last episode, where Mikumo said she never remembered anyone celebrating her birthday. Here she goes on to say that she has no memories of her childhood or her parents, either. It was a fan theory from the beginning that there was something… artificial, shall we say, about Mikumo. Either that she was a clone or an android or SOMETHING.

Oh, and I’d like to take this moment to note, first, how good the Walküre choreography is, and second, how good the motion capture is. The first should be kind of a given, considering that Frontier gave a lot of fun and now-iconic dance moves to Sheryl and Ranka, but the second is new. Even in the Frontier movies, a lot of the dance sequences were pretty obviously film of real people, painted over (in the old hand-drawn days, of course, they called this “rotoscoping” – you can see it a lot in, say, Ralph Bakshi’s “Lord of the Rings” movie – but I’m not sure if the digital version is still called that), whereas with Walküre, it’s seamlessly integrated with all the other animation. I didn’t even realize that it even WAS motion capture until I watched one of the “Making of Macross Delta” shorts that profiled the dancers who “play” Walküre.

6. Oh, and during Freyja’s song, Hayate bugs out a bit again. Again, this plot thread isn’t annoying yet, but soon will be.

Oh, and in another subtle homage, the drink bottle that Hayate gives to Freyja is good ol’ Appale Genki, from Earth Girl Arjuna and Macross Zero. I always find it amazing when pre-Space War I brands managed to survive after the Zentradi destroyed earth.

7. Hayate makes a big faux pas when he tells Freyja that he hasn’t seen his mom in “only” a year or two, since that’s a rather large portion of a Windermerean’s life. She looks down, but snaps out of it quickly. It’s still a reminder to him that Freyja doesn’t really have all that long to live.

There’s also a nicely-observed bit where Freyja says that when she first came to Ragna, she thought old people were a different type of alien, since she’s never seen anyone much older than thirty. The fact that it’s a Ragnan COUPLE that brings this to her mind is moving, since she’ll never know what it’s like to grow old with someone.

8. The flat-out best section of this episode, even better than cheesecake Makina, is Bogue’s horrified reaction to Reina. I mentioned the rehabilitation of Bogue before, from annoying would-be killer to hormonally embarrassed teenage boy, and this is where that transition gets cemented. When he finds his men watching the Walküre concert, first he’s enraged, but when the hologram of Reina “looks” at him, he’s immediately terrified. It’s also a great scene to cite (as I have before) when you’re making fun of the Macross (or, more often, Robotech) fans who think that Macross is gritty, hardcore military SF and get uncomfortable around idol singers.

9. At the end, there’s another twist in the all-important story of the Dimension Eater dropped on Windermere. Remember, first we heard that Windermere did it to themselves as a “false flag” attack. Then we heard that the N.U.N.S. dropped it. Now, we find out that, yes, it was the N.U.N.S., and the pilot who made the bombing run was Hayate’s father. He destroyed a N.U.N.S. base and also killed countless Windermerean civilians. It’ll be a while before this gets untangled fully, but I’m not sure how convincing any of it is. Even when first watching the show a year ago, I never really thought that Immelmann Sr. was ever trying guilty of this war crime. Perhaps because of that, I never found the subplot all that compelling. What would Hayate do if his dad WERE guilty? Quit Delta Flight? The stakes aren’t clearly defined, and so the issue lacks weight. The resolution (near the end of the series) is really touching, but until that point, it just doesn’t seem as crucial as the show wants us to think it is. I freely admit, though, that if I could have seen this when I was in my teens, and first truly beginning to see my parents as flawed human beings (as we all must do, sooner or later), it might have grabbed me a little more intensely. Again, it’s always good to remember that people like me aren’t the show’s target audience, and that audience’s priorities aren’t necessarily my priorities.

10. One of the common complaints about Broadway musicals (especially older ones) is that every time a song starts, the plot stops. I can’t quite say that this episode, which is the biggest all-singing all-dancing extravaganza in the series, completely avoids that charge, but I still find it a lot of fun, with some excellent scenes. As I said, I think Bogue is the highlight, but Freyja and Hayate’s scenes together are warm, and the concert scenes are well-done (if not quite the delirious weirdness of, say, Sheryl’s concerts in the Frontier movies). Still, the last battle we had was a couple of episodes ago, and it was extremely short. Let’s get those Valkyries back in action…

OP: “Absolute Zero θ Novatic”

ED: “Destruction of Innocence”

EYECATCH: Hayate’s VF-31J

NEW SONGS IN THIS EPISODE: “Onyanoko Girl,” “Hear the Universe”

NUMBER OF TIMES BOGUE HAS LUNGED FORWARD: 7

THE GREAT MACROSS REWATCH 157 – Reluctant BIRTHDAY

Delta Ep.16

MACROSS DELTA

MISSION 16: Reluctant BIRTHDAY

ICONIC SCENE: Netabare Album ~The end of triangle~

STORY DATE: November 1-3, 2067

BROADCAST DATE: July 17, 2016

1. Well, every Macross TV series apparently has to have a birthday episode, and now Freyja joins the exclusive club of Minmay, Mylene, and Alto in having her birthday party televised for our entertainment.

And we open with her wearing the good ol’ Nyan-Nyan waitress uniform, made famous by Ranka (and Nanase. And, less canonically, Sheryl and Alto).

Meanwhile, Makina is planning a surprise birthday party for her, and if you look closely when they show Freyja’s profile from the Walküre website, the text is just copied from the English Wikipedia entry for her.

2. As far as the war goes, it appears that Heinz needs to recover before Windermere can attack the rest of the galaxy, which gives Xaos a bit of time to execute Mikumo’s plan of trying to use the one of the Protoculture ruins to Walküre’s advantage.

3. The shopping scene is a little strange… it’s clearly an attempt to try to generate some romantic tension between Hayate and Mirage… except that they’re shopping for Freyja. I’ve said it before, but again, it doesn’t really seem like Mirage was ever in any kind of love triangle here, no matter how much Chuck, Reina, and Makina seem to ship them. And indeed, by the end of this episode, any hope for a triangle will be well and truly closed. If I understand them correctly, some Mirage fans seem to think that this makes her a poorly-written character, but I don’t really see it. As the excellent Macross (and other things) blogger Karice says, Mirage’s story is not that of a love-triangle contestant. There’s nothing “special” about her, and that’s what makes her important.

(Seriously, read Karice’s post. It’s great.)

I *think* what the Mirage fans wanted was for her to first become a kickass pilot, and then swoop in and steal Hayate from Freyja’s grasping clutches, which of course doesn’t happen. It’s possible they wanted other things from her, too: one gent who proclaimed often and loudly how terrible Delta was decided to hire a model, dress her up as Mirage, and do a photo shoot, saying that he would do justice to the character (since the show didn’t). Apparently, his idea of respecting the character was in taking semi-undressed cheesecake photos of the model. Er, okay…

*Ahem* Anyway, the scene is fun and charming, made more so by Chuck and Makina (and Reina) following Hayate and Mirage and making up romantic dialogue for them. Also charming, if a little implausible, is that Mirage’s phone looks like Q-Lulu, and that there is apparently Q-Lulu-themed merchandise for sale.

Oh well, I guess it’s like if you have, say, an Airedale or a Scottish Terrier, and there’s plenty of stuff you can get with those breeds of dogs on them.

4. The mall they’re in is also fun, with lots of intriguing-sounding shops like “Flying Ragna,” “Retro Girl,” and “UNIVERSEDUO.” There’s also an odd Fed Ex parody called MadEx, but that was already in Episode One. Oh, and apparently, the top girls’ fashion magazine in 2067 is called “Daisy Daisy.” And there’s a “Mercat Fair” going on at the mall, whatever that entails.

5. Mirage comes out and asks if Hayate likes Freyja, which is refreshingly direct for an anime character (and, often, your average young Japanese woman). Hayate doesn’t really “get” what she’s asking, or at least pretends not to.

6. One plot development that will become important-but-annoying starts here, where Freyja sings and Hayate, some miles away presumably, starts getting woozy. I’ll get into WHY this is annoying later, but I’m sure you can guess what I’m gonna say.

7. Funnily enough, when they actually surprise Freyja, she had forgotten that it was her birthday. Then Mikumo shows up (which in itself is kind of a shock) and sings “Freyja’s Birthday Song,” an a cappella song that really lets Mikumo’s singing voice, JUNNA, show off her pipes. Last year, after Macross World Con (now called Super Dimension Convention, being held this October in Torrance, CA… come if you can! It’s always fun!), a bunch of us went out to eat, and the Walküre cosplayers with us did an impromptu (and great) version of this song in the middle of the restaurant, which made the other diners think that it was actually someone’s birthday, and so the whole place erupted into applause after the song.

Similarly, when Freyja’s birthday, November 3, rolled around last year, a Japanese fan actually made a replica of Freyja’s cake. And it looked delicious.

8. Oh, one think I’ve been meaning to mention but haven’t had a chance to… often, when Freyja is trying to keep it together or motivate herself, she’ll slap her own cheeks. This apparently is something that her voice actress, Minori Suzuki would do, and it was a habit given to the character.

9. Hayate arrives late, but he has a pretty awesome present: he’s rented some snowmakers and turned the front of Rag-Nyan-Nyan into a Windermerean winter scene. Freyja is ecstatic, and when Hayate touches her Rune, she doesn’t flinch or call her a perv. Basically, this is like getting to second base. I think. And Arad, I’m pretty sure, knows it, considering the “You’re gonna get lucky, Bro” smile he flashes at Hayate.

Mirage looks on from afar, but it’s over now. The love triangle (such as it was) is done, and Mirage never really had a chance. Note, however, that she doesn’t really seem that upset, and she watches Hayate and Freyja with a rather wistful smile on her face. She does quietly start crying a bit later without realizing why, but really, this is hardly a tragedy for her.

10. As far as the space war plot goes, this is the most digressive episode we’ve had, as it barely gets brought up. However, as I’ve said, it’s entirely crucial for the love story. Hayate and Freyja won’t do much with their potential relationship for a while, but the events here will definitely have a huge impact on Mirage.

OP: “Absolute Zero θ Novatic”

ED: “God Bless You”

EYECATCH: Don and Q-Lulu

NEW SONGS IN THIS EPISODE: “The Wind Blows Without Warning” (kinda), “Freyja’s Birthday Song,” and “God Bless You.”

NUMBER OF TIMES BOGUE HAS LUNGED FORWARD: 6

THE GREAT MACROSS REWATCH 156 – Parting RESOLUTION

Delta Ep.15

MACROSS DELTA

MISSION 15: Parting RESOLUTION

ICONIC SCENE: Triumph of the Will, Windermere-style.

STORY DATE: Late October to November 1, 2067

BROADCAST DATE: July 10, 2016

1. It’s about time we got an episode focusing primarily on the Windermereans. The series introduced them as a “mysterious threat,” but has been trying to humanize them since about halfway through the first cour. But it was clear from the get-go that they were never meant to be evil and unsympathetic, if for no other reason than that there’s a manga about them. I don’t think the show develops them QUITE as much as it should (the twins especially remain firmly in the background throughout), but some of them become full characters.

Oh, and the new opening gets unveiled here. Funnily enough (as pointed out on the SpeakerPODCast) the name “Walküre” appears well before the name “Macross.” The song, “Absolute Zero θ [“theta”] Novatic,” is good, although it tends to move in fits and starts, which makes it an odd choice for an OP (I always think the best OP songs are the ones that start slow and speed up, or at least gain complexity of instrumentation as they continue). Still, the single was a big hit, so what do I know?

And, a while back, Craig of the Repacked Podcast and the SpeakerPODCast asked me if Bogue lunging forward in this OP counts for my tally. And the answer is, “Yep.”

And the last shot in the opening is by Risa Ebata, who came back to do several stunning pics of Walküre. Here, I like that the outfits are definitely inspired by the usual stage costumes, but show an elaborateness that would be extremely difficult to capture in animation.

2. It’s interesting that although this is Windermere’s moment of victory, the episode is suffused with melancholy and regret. Some of it is tied to the past (Bogue, for example, has lost his entire family), but there’s also a lot of uncertainty about the current war, especially given its underhanded methods of using the Vár and mind-control.

3. Keith is now out of his coma, but he’s lost his right eye. Naturally, Windermereans being as superhuman as they are, this doesn’t affect his flying. He can literally fly with eyes closed and be all right.

4. A lot of effort goes into making Windermere look pretty down-at-heel. Even the colosseum where Heinz’s coronation takes place looks plain and not as impressive as you’d think it should. Just in case you think this may be a failure of design rather than a conscious choice, there are huge chunks ripped out of some of the walls. Windermere is not a kingdom of riches, but is barely scraping by, trying its best hold on to some sense of pride and glory.

5. Back on Island Jackpot, we get to see a Ragnan bed, which is a small pool of water. Mikumo mentions that she has a plan for reclaiming the Brísingr Globular Cluster, and Walküre is moving into Rag-Nyan-Nyan. The best part of this scene is Reina’s huge array of bizarre-looking plush toys.

6. Roid gives his big speech, and seems to prove that the NUNS were behind the dropping of the Dimension Eater seven years prior, since it was delivered by a VF-22. This will go back and forth for a while before we get a clear resolution, but Roid is indeed right that the NUNS is lying in saying that Windermere did it themselves.

7. There’s still some potentially shady business, though. For all anyone knew, Windermere’s war has finished. They’ve conquered (er, I mean, “liberated”) the entire Cluster and are free of NUNS control. However, Roid now says that they need to conquer the whole galaxy (which, using the Song of the Wind and the Vár, they could potentially do). And he says it was King Grammier’s final will to do so. Is Roid lying…? It’s not like anyone else was around to hear…

8. The newly-crowned King Heinz sings, and suddenly those odd structures from fold space appear around all the Protoculture ruins on the planets of the Brísingr Cluster, which could strengthen the song enough to put the entire galaxy under mind control.

Oh, and Mikumo thinks the structures seem somehow familiar…

9. At the end, there’s a brief-but-fierce space battle with Keith rushing in and taking out the NUNS fleet’s fold jamming systems to allow the Song of the Wind to get through. It’s probably the best part of the entire series for seeing the Draken kick ass in battroid mode.

The fleet gets ripped to tatters (including a blink-and-you’ll-miss-it gruesome death for one of the pilots), but there is a survivor, who gets rescued by Hayate. And that survivor expresses shock that Arad would work with Wright Immelmann’s son… setting in motion a major plot thread for the second half of the series.

10. This is the first episode that I think isn’t really all that good. The lack of visual flair in the scenes on Windermere is deliberate, but even the writing seems a little drab. Hints and references are made to the larger Windermerean society as well as to the relationships between the various Aerial Knights, but they remain hints. I would’ve preferred less about the coronation ceremony and more about the knights themselves. There’s a lot here that could’ve been interesting if it had been expanded upon better, primarily among the knights’ families, who we still have yet to see. Bogue’s scene at his family’s grave should be heartrending, as should Heinz’s realization that Keith is now his servant rather than his brother, but they lack emotion. As it stands, the episode fills in some blanks and moves the plot along, but little more.

It’s also, I note, only the second episode where Walküre doesn’t sing, although Heinz does.

OP: “Absolute Zero θ Novatic”

ED: “Destruction of Innocence”

EYECATCH: Keith’s Draken III

NEW SONGS IN THIS EPISODE: “Absolute Zero θ Novatic.”

NUMBER OF TIMES BOGUE HAS LUNGED FORWARD: 5

THE GREAT MACROSS REWATCH 155 – Drifting EMBRACE

Delta Ep.14

MACROSS DELTA

MISSION 14: Drifting EMBRACE

ICONIC SCENE: WALKÜRE!!

STORY DATE: 2067

BROADCAST DATE: July 3, 2016

1. Well, I gotta admit, I’m a little apprehensive about this part. See, I haven’t rewatched the second half of Delta in full until now. When I watched it as it was airing, I enjoyed it, but I also couldn’t escape the nagging feeling that not enough was actually, y’know, HAPPENING. I’m not sure how I’ll feel this time.

It’s no secret that even a lot of viewers who enjoyed (hell, LOVED) the first half of Delta really didn’t like the second half. You see a lot of people blaming “rushed scripting” because the series was expanded from the original concept of thirteen episodes plus a movie to twenty-six episodes, but as I’ve said before, that doesn’t mean what everyone says it means, nor did it happen as late as everyone says. But still, the fact remains that the second cour of Delta has much less in the way of action, and more in the way of people standing around talking. Does it “work” better watched over a shorter span rather than week by week? I don’t know yet.

The last time I was feeling a little bit of trepidation in the Great Macross Rewatch was when I started Seven, wondering if having to write about each episode would kill the show for me. As it turned out, despite some longueurs, it didn’t, and if anything I ended up liking Seven MORE than I had previously. Will the same thing happen here? Only time will tell…

2. Right off the bat, though, we get a new mystery (or a development of an old one) as Mikumo has a very odd dream in which she’s singing what seems to be a Windermerean song in front of a Protoculture temple.

Then we get the opening, which I find to be astonishingly clever. It’s the old theme, “If I Love Only Once,” but it’s the version Freyja sang last episode, and instead of the normal opening titles, it’s pretty much a recap of the previous episode. It’s a technique for addressing “The Story So Far…” that I’ve never seen before.

3. The main issue here is that the City ship (named here as “Island Jackpot,” which is a pretty strange name) is having power troubles. The Elysion could provide enough power for both ships (which reminds me of the modular system that enabled the main cannon to fire on the original SDF-1 Macross if it transformed), but Island Jackpot’s docking system has been damaged.

They’ve also got refugees to deal with, just like in the original Macross, but it’s dealt with a little more realistically here, as everyone is waiting in makeshift camps, rather than in a cozily rebuilt town.

By the way, I really like the effect of the power outages, as the fake sky in the City’s dome flickers in and out of existence.

4. There’s a section about politics that doesn’t really get expanded on, where it turns out that Xaos had been hired by the Brîsingr Golbular Cluster Coalition, but the Coalition itself is falling apart thanks to WIndermere’s conquest. Technically, Xaos is still on the payroll, but they might never get paid. And in their current reduced state, they couldn’t return and liberate Ragna even if they were ordered to.

5. Luckily, some time has been bought for our heroes, since the Knights have to return to Windermere for both the funeral for King Grammier, and the coronation of King Heinz.

Oh, and Keith is alive, but in a coma. Serves him right.

In the next scene, Hayate says that Island Jackpot hasn’t flown in thirty years, which, based on the basic Macross timeline, makes more sense than the “fifty years” that they had said previously. In 2037, New Macross Class ships existed. In 2017, they didn’t.

6. Er… didn’t they actually show two mercats mating…? Yes, yes they did…

And we find out a little about Hayate’s dad. He was in the military and where he was at any time was apparently a secret.

Also, after many months of speculation among the fans about whether Hayate’s pendant is Fold Quartz, he just comes out here and says it is. No biggie.

After that, there seems to be a deliberate callback to the first episode, with Hayate repeating his speech that he went lots of places and did lots of things, but nothing seemed to click. Then he quotes Freyja’s line that “You have to go somewhere you really wanna be.”

7. The gravity for one of the blocks fails, just like in Do You Remember Love, and for a moment, this LOOKS like it’s going to turn into the traditional Macross “trapped in a blocked-off area of the ship,” but Delta is the first Macross TV series not to have one of those. Instead, Freyja gets out quickly, and Hayate and Mirage are in a good place to reconnect a broken cable that’s necessary to regain full power.

And then, just as the civilians begin to panic, Walküre puts on a command rooftop performance, singing “Neo-Stream” (and, as I said about the song before, JUNNA (as Mikumo)’s English is impeccable. Is she really only a junior high school student…?).

Now, nearly every episode of Delta has a song at some point, but this one seems the most shoehorned-in so far. And it’s worth noting that the first Walküre album, “Walküre Attack,” was released later this week, so you could think of this as an extra push to advertise it. That said, it’s a lovely sequence, done mostly in the dark, with the girls lit from lights underneath them, which gives the artists a lot of interesting shadows to work with.

8. And while we’re talking about gratuitous scenes, there’s also Hayate and Mirage (still in Zero-G Friendzone) stripping off the jackets and throwing them to give themselves some kind of forward momentum. It all ends up being a little “Three’s Company,” as Hayate and Mirage are exerting themselves and grunting and moaning a lot and basically sounding like they’re having sex, as Freyja listens in, able to hear them but not see them, with a horrified expression.

9. Anyway, it all works, and the Elysion’s crotch docks with Island Jackpot, solving the power problem.

Plus the gravity comes back on, as well as the lights, letting everyone see Mirage and Hayate, half-naked, hanging on to each other. Mirage is mortified, of course.

And Xaos finds new clients who hire them to take the Globular Cluster back from Windermere.

Oh, and when the Elysion moves in to dock, I think this may be the only time in the show where we see Arad’s Siegfried in battroid mode.

10. Now, look… we all know how TV anime production works, and so after the action-packed previous episode, I was expecting something without as many animation-intensive (and cost-intensive) scenes for an episode or two. Every TV anime show is this way. And indeed, there aren’t many Valkyrie shots here, and no aerial combat at all. That said, it’s a fine episode, with plenty of cool scenes.

This was also the episode that aired mere hours before I finally met Shoji Kawamori himself (in L.A.) at the Satelight Animation booth at Anime Expo, which was definitely THE highlight of the con for me (second was meeting Yoshitaka Amano, one booth over. It was a good con for meeting the people who made me fascinated by anime). We didn’t talk long. I thanked him for his work, told him that I was really enjoying Delta, and that I was looking forward to his upcoming series, The Next. I received an autographed copy of the program for his recent museum exhibit, “The Henkei.” I felt a little presumptuous asking for a photo, but I’m glad I did. Unfortunately, thanks to being exhausted from working the booth all weekend, I look terrible here…

Delta Ep.14a

Oh, and the new ending theme, “Destruction of Innocence,” is meant (both instrumentally and lyrically) to be a sorta response to “Forbidden Borderline.” Personally, I think it may be the best song in the whole series.

OP: “If I Love Only Once” (Ep. 13 Freyja Version)

ED: “Destruction of Innocence”

EYECATCH: VF-1EX (Hayate Type)

NEW SONGS IN THIS EPISODE: “Destruction of Innocence.”

NUMBER OF TIMES BOGUE HAS LUNGED FORWARD: 4